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Topic: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Our next guest is an authority, if not THE authority, on John Barry, his life and music. Indeed, that’s almost the title of one of his books (which I highly recommend)-

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He’s also co-authored these titles-
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In addition he’s been behind a series of CD releases, including several on his own Play It Again label.
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It’s Geoff Leonard, whose knowledge of John Barry is encyclopedic. I hope we can come up with interesting questions about the man and his music. Please submit your questions before 23.00 GMT on Monday.


I’ve had pleasant occasional contact with Geoff ever since the Monty Norman vs. Times Newspapers case concerning the authorship of the “James Bond Theme”. Neither he nor I will be divulging any details about that in this interview so please don’t ask about that!

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Do you know anything about any reactions from the producers or the public when Barry introduced the synthesizer in a Bond score in OHMSS?

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

There's a quantum leap between Barry's compositions for Doctor No and FRWL - why was that?

Imho, his greatest work is OHMSS. Barry peaked again with Moonraker, with a sweeping approach which featured in his other work such as Dances With Wolves. What influenced this change from the brassy urgency of the sixties to the mellow expansiveness of the seventies and eighties?

What was Barry's favourite of his soundtracks?

(Another inspired choice for an interview Barbel!  ajb007/martini )

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

who were his influences in defining that big swaggery Bond sound?
was he a fan of classic big band artists like Count Basie, or was it other recent soundtrack music like Mancini's Peter Gunn theme?
as a record collector, what records should I be looking for to hear the inspirations behind that Barry sound?

also: of the later nonBarry soundtracks, were there any that he especially liked?
how about Bacharach's Casino Royale soundtrack and the Look of Love, did he ever comment on that one?

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Did J Barry ever regret a film score he either turned down or missed out on ?
Which other composers did he regard highly ?
Of all his film scores, did he regard one as his most accomplished work, perhaps not
his favourite but the one he felt really stretched his talent ?
Did he enjoy any of his collaborations with the pop bands he had to work with on his
last couple of Bonds ?

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Has John Barry been to Japan before he created the YOLT score?

Are there any traditional japanese tunes, which he has carried over for his soundtrack and if yes, which are they?

President of the 'Misty Eyes Club'.
-------Dalton - the weak and weepy Bond!------
FIRST TO DISCOVER substantial evidence that Chew Mee is in fact not totally nude in the TMWTGG pool scenes!

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Thank you guys, I'll send the questions off to Geoff now.

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

No reply as yet. Would you guys like me to post the next interview topic while we're waiting, or finish this one first?

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Please post the next interview topic!  ajb007/martini

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

It depends on how much time Geoff Leonard needs to reply, but unless he can reply this week you might as well introduce the next person to be interviewed.

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

I've had a message from a mutual friend that Geoff will be replying soon. He's been busy, that's all.. ajb007/smile

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Below are Geoff's replies, and I'd like to thank him for his co-operation. Interesting stuff!



1- Do you know anything about any reactions from the producers or the public when Barry introduced the synthesizer in a Bond score in OHMSS?

Not at the time of its release. Years later many critics and fans praised the innovation, but back in '69 it seems to have passed unnoticed by the majority.


2-  Did Barry ever regret a film score he either turned down or missed out on?

He turned down Anne of The Thousand Days (1969), which turned out to be an award-winning film, so he may have regretted that. He was going to do Love Story (1970) when director Anthony Harvey, was involved with it, but a new director wanted somebody else to score it.

He once said he would have liked a shot at 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), but approved of the way Kubrick used classical music.


3- IMHO, his greatest work is OHMSS. Barry peaked again with Moonraker, with a sweeping approach which featured in his other work such as Dances With Wolves. What influenced this change from the brassy urgency of the sixties to the mellow expansiveness of the seventies and eighties?

All I can say is that it seems to have coincided with his move to the USA in late '75, and his subsequent marriage there in early '78, after which he scored several films with romantic content, often using large string sections. Obviously, some of the films he was offered, such as The Black Hole, Hanover Street, Raise the Titanic & Somewhere in Time needed that  approach anyway. He had largely moved away from the sort of films he would often accept in the sixties, which he might have scored differently. He may also have been influenced by the success of John Williams, with symphonic scores such as Star Wars and Close Encounters.


4- What was Barry's favourite of his soundtracks?

He always used to name Goldfinger, The Knack & The Lion in Winter, but I'm sure if asked in later years he would also have included Out of Africa & Dances with Wolves.


5- Who were his influences in defining that big swaggery Bond sound?

Certainly the Stan Kenton brass sound, with which he had become familiar when they played his father's cinema in York during the 40s and 50s, was a big influence. He also liked the jazzy style of Elmer Bernstein.


6- Was he a fan of classic big band artists like Count Basie, or was it other recent soundtrack music like Mancini's Peter Gunn theme?

He was a huge fan of Stan Kenton, and also admired the Ted Heath Orchestra. I'm sure he was also a fan of Mancini. The John Barry Seven often included Peter Gunn in their stage repertoire.


7- As a record collector, what records should I be looking for to hear the inspirations behind that Barry sound?

I'm not sure you'd find anything specific, because it was a combination of several things.  In addition to the big band sound previously mentioned, Barry also claimed the JB7 was influenced by the Duane Eddy guitar style, but this was denied by Vic Flick, his own guitarist!


8- Of the later non Barry soundtracks, were there any that he especially liked?  How about Bacharach's Casino Royale soundtrack and The Look of Love, did he ever comment on that one?

He always made it a rule not to comment on the Bond films scored by others, though I do know he was delighted when a review of GoldenEye (the film) regretted his own absence -- in fact he read the review to me with some relish!


9- Which other composers did he regard highly?

Nino Rota, Alex North, Henry Mancini & Elmer Bernstein are names I have heard him mention, though I'm sure there would have been others, such as Williams, Goldsmith & Miklos Rosza.


10- Of all his film scores, did he regard one as his most accomplished work, perhaps not his favourite but the one he felt really stretched his talent?

Latterly he would always cite Dances with Wolves, but that may have been because it was his last really big success. Earlier, I would suggest his score for Deadfall (1968) because he had to write a guitar concerto which was essential for part of the plot. Not perhaps the greatest film, but I know he was very proud of his work.


11- Did he enjoy any of his collaborations with the pop bands he had to work with on his last couple of Bonds?

He has said he enjoyed working with Duran Duran, but that might have been him being diplomatic for the press. He enjoyed the song's success, but basically he didn't like composer collaborators. Lyricists were fine, but, as he told a member of the group, "young man, this is my gig"!

He didn't enjoy the A-ha experience one iota!


12- Had John Barry been to Japan before he created the YOLT score?
Are there any traditional Japanese tunes, which he has carried over for his soundtrack and if yes, which are they?

As far as I know he had not visited Japan previously, though in the seventies he did a lengthy concert tour there, with an orchestra which included many Bond score sessioneer veterans, some of whom had played on YOLT.

I'm not aware that he utilised any traditional Japanese tunes when writing his score, though clearly his overall style was intended to convey a feeling or atmosphere of that country.

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

Many thanks Barbel. Much appreciated ajb007/smile

"Any of the opposition around..?"

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

ajb007/cheers  another great interview.

“I didn’t lose a friend, I just realised I never had one.”

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

thanks for this interview, Geoff Leonard and Barbel
now I want to find one of these John Barry Seven live performances of the Peter Gunn Theme.
I wonder if there's any "live/rare" audience recordings of the John Barry Seven circulating around?

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Re: AJB Interview with Geoff Leonard

What a fascinating interview - thanks so much to Mr Leonard for his thoughtful answers (and well done for arranging Barbel)  ajb007/martini  ajb007/martini  ajb007/martini

I had heard John Barry interviewed mention that his collaboration with a-ha was not the happiest one, I'd love to hear more about why. Personality clash?

Interesting also that Goldfinger was his personal favourite of his Bond scores. While it's up there in my top half-dozen, I'd rate his following four Bond scores above it. Perhaps it was because he really perfected the Bond score with Goldfinger ?

"How was your lamb?" "Skewered. One sympathises."